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Chapter XIII

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

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Summary

On her way home, Renate passed through the area again and stayed for several weeks, not in the hillside house this time, but at a nearby summer resort, to which friends had invited her.

Only now did she get to know Markus, and she stressed how glad she was to have caught him before he left for the Dutch congress for natural scientists, at which he was offering a paper. She soon drew him into ever longer conversations about his female monkeys, whom he had to thank for his presentation and who, as she saw at once, were quite close to his heart. Another thing she noticed at once: Anneliese knew a great deal about these monkeys, Gitta hardly anything at all. In fact, Gitta would stick her fingers in her ears as soon as the conversation turned to animal experiments and warily check the expressions of those present to see whether they had finally exhausted the topic before she took her fingers out again.

That's why she wasn't going along to the conference, where everyone would be looking at her ears. She much preferred to sit out those brief straw-widow days in her girlhood snuggery up in the woodlands. Renate joked that a second divorce was now unfolding in the hillside house. The first involved the Lüdeckes. Herr Lüdecke, it seems, was refusing to go walking with Frau Lüdecke, even in the loveliest moonlight. Instead, he had recently taken to keeping steady company with a few simple friends in a tavern in town. Of course, he’d done that in the past, but never so regularly and never during a full moon.

“Herr Lüdecke no longer loves me!” Frau Lüdecke declared with calm resignation. Renate was amazed to see how Frau Lüdecke's bridal airs, indestructible through ten years of marriage, fell from her nicely dressed frame and withered into an implacable spinsterhood.

Everyone had an occasional laugh at the expense of Frau Lüdecke and her romantic ways. But Markus felt Renate's interest in the matter — which, though excessive, revealed the comical side of the situation — made the Lüdeckes look like something the hillside house was in fact wonderfully lacking, namely “the under-the-stairs contingent” — “domestic servants.”

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Anneliese's House , pp. 121 - 134
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2021

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